I’d just like to use today’s post to wish the love of my life a happy birthday. You are an amazing and wonderful person.
(And hopefully I’ll get this blog posted before your NEXT birthday, haha.)
You know what the only downside is to LeibnizFest?* Reading the last chapter of that Antognazza biography.
Man, is it sad.
Leibniz did not have a very good time at the end of his life. “Leibniz’s last years were marred by frustration and loneliness,” is the first sentence of that last chapter, and unfortunately it is a very fitting first sentence. First, he’d outlived almost everyone he’d ever communicated with (most of them died in the 1690’s; Leibniz lived until 1716) and thus had very few people to communicate with. Second, he was still trying to recover his reputation after the whole calculus debate with Newton (and actually, I shouldn’t say “after” yet because Newton and his cronies (mostly his cronies) dragged that thing out well past Leibniz’ death). Third, he wanted desperately to keep traveling, but injury, poor health, and prior obligations basically forced him to stay put for a good several years. A quote of his from the bio: “I am shut in my room working and I hardly ever leave it.” This is coming from a man who took on innumerable projects just so that he’d have the excuse to travel and converse with people of different backgrounds and skills, so it’s super sad. And then, of course, there’s the fact that he basically died alone and was given very little recognition for his accomplishments until well after his death.
It’s heartbreaking to me to hear all the crappy things that happened to him in the last five or so years of his life. Someone with such a great mind, such compassion, and such good spirit deserved something better at the end.
UGH IT JUST MAKES ME UPSET, OKAY?
To end LeibnizFest on a lighter note, have a look at this Leibniz-centric website that has pretty much everything you could ever want on the amazing polymath. I have it bookmarked. I visit it a few times a week.
It’s a healthy obsession.
Anyway. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LEIBNIZ!
*I’m totally calling mid-June to mid-July LeibnizFest now; it’s gone beyond just celebrating on his birthday, let’s be honest.
OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST THING.
(Don’t ask me how I found this.)
(Okay fine it was Tumblr.)
So I got two super cool books for my birthday from some guy named Nate. :)
This is like the definitive Newton bio. I’ve wanted to read this since I first heard of it, and now I can! I might have to put it on the bookshelf opposite of the bookshelf with my Leibniz shrine, though, haha.
Giant Antarctica book (this picture makes it look deceptively average-sized). It’s been a looong time since I got a new book on Antarctica, so yay!
Now the question is, do I delve right into Newton’s bio or should I re-read Leibniz’ for the nth time first? I’ll read them both back-to-back, it’s just a question of which one to start with.
Thank you, Nate! :D
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, INTERNET!
In celebration, have some…um…internet! Most of these are classics by this point, but they may not have been seen in awhile depending on how much you internet reminisce.
Hamsterdance (closest thing I could find to the original site that would actually load)
And don’t forget old Google!
Yaaaaaaaaay, best day of the year!
Today is Gottfried Leibniz’ 348th birthday, yo.
As I mentioned a week or so ago, I’m re-reading this fantastic bio of him ‘cause it’s important. I know I do this a lot, but let me reiterate just one huge reason why this man is so damn awesome, since it IS his birthday, after all:
Leibniz’ formal schooling was severely lacking any rigorous mathematical training. It focused mainly on Latin, theology, and philosophy. However, due to (among other things) having access to his father’s extensive library, Leibniz developed a curiosity toward mathematics and taught himself quite a bit. However, he was still lacking a lot of knowledge once he got out of school. Here’s an excerpt from the bio regarding his visit to Paris, which was practically the center of all things intellectual in the European continent at the time:
“[In Paris] Leibniz was made painfully aware of the limitations of his mathematical preparation and of his lack of up-to-date knowledge of work in the field; and this soon led to the further realization that, in order to carry his plans forward, he would first need to forge himself new tools. … Thankfully, Leibniz was nothing if not a quick learner: by the end of his Parisian sojourn, in fact, the self-confessed mathematical apprentice had invented the infinitesimal calculus.”
So it took him approximately TEN FREAKING YEARS to go from practically a math novice to inventor of calculus.
That’s so freaking ridiculous.
Happy birthday, Leibniz, you amazing dude. <3
Cool info for my birthday:
- When you were born there were approximately 5,132,112,262 other people alive on Earth.
- January 15th, 2001
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, launches on the Internet over half your life ago!
- 13th Feb 1988
The opening of 1988 Winter Olympics held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (you were 11 days old)
- 9th Nov 1989
The Berlin Wall falls (you were 1 year old)
- 1st Oct 1992
The Cartoon Network is first broadcast on television (you were 4 years old)
- 10th Dec 1993
DOOM, a science fiction horror-themed first-person shooter video game is released (you were 5 years old)
- 22nd Nov 1995
Pixar/Disney animated movie “Toy Story” is released (you were 7 years old)
- 19th Nov 1996
Microsoft’s Clippy is unleashed on the world with the release of Microsoft Office ’97 (you were 8 years old)
- 14th Jul 2000
A powerful solar flare, later named the Bastille Day event, causes a geomagnetic storm on Earth (you were 12 years old)
- 24th Aug 2006
The International Astronomical Union demotes Pluto which is no longer regarded as a planet (you were 18 years old)
- 18th Nov 2011
Minecraft, a sandbox indie game is published as a full release version (you were 23 years old)
- Out of 100,000 people born on the same day as you, approximately 97,854 are still living.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! I love you!! We shall hang out and be weird together soon, assuming I survive my last final tomorrow.
Also, you know what would be a cool idea (if it wasn’t illegal…which I’m not sure if it is or not)? Get a group of friends together and have an “open to the public” reading of Shakespeare in the park. Like, each friend would bring a cheap copy of Hamlet or something and would read/act out one of the parts, and people walking by could join in at any time. We could bring a small whiteboard or something and indicate on it which parts were already taken (or just being covered), and people walking by could, if they wanted, just jump in and start reading/acting one of the uncovered parts (again, we could get a bunch of super cheap copies so that passersby could just jump in).
Wouldn’t that be cool? I have no idea how many people would join in a group of strangers reading Shakespeare, but I think it would be super fun.
WOO FINALS WEEK!
Heeeeeeeeeey, look, it’s my birthday.
And the Superbowl.
OH YOU KNEW IT WAS COMING.
367 years ago today, the coolest polymath to ever exist was born.
I was hoping to be through Antognazza’s biography of him by today so I could extoll every inch of his beautiful mind that is covered in the 664-page bio, but alas, calc III happened (not that I’m complaining) and so my reading time was severely hindered. So I’m about halfway through as of writing this blog (I think he’s in his 40s at this point in the bio).
And with each page I’m like, “holy monads, Batman, it is not possible to like this man any more than I already do.”
And then I read the next page and I like him even more.
It’s hard for me to express exactly why I like Leibniz so much. As I mentioned in a past blog, as soon as I started reading his work and reading about him in general I felt this weird connection with him. Like we were supposed to know each other but the universe was like “NOPE!” and threw us into the mix a couple centuries apart.
(Don’t judge me, I’m really trying to not sound creepy. Am I failing miserably?)
And as I’ve mentioned in other blogs, it really seems like he was just a good guy. He wasn’t a buttface to those who disagreed with his philosophy or ideas about the natural world. He was accused like five separate times of stealing others’ ideas (which he never did) but never totally flipped out and started smothering people with his wig. According to the reports of his contemporaries, he was very kind, congenial, and graceful in social settings. The ladies seemed to dig him (SMART LADIES!). AND he was about as naturally intellectually curious as a person could be.
Seriously. A year after his father’s death when Leibniz was six, he inherited his library and immediately worked to teach himself Greek and Latin so that he could read the works of the ancient philosophers (his father taught moral philosophy at the University of Leipzig). He received his law degree when he was like 19 and for his doctoral dissertation he wrote some work on permutations/combinations that was fairly groundbreaking. And this was before he even started to seriously get into the field of mathematics.
Yup, the guy who invented calculus didn’t really start into math until his twenties. He was interested in law and philosophy originally, but as he continued to refine his ideas he began to move into math. As he began his travels around Europe after finishing his education, it became clear to him that his mathematical knowledge was lacking. So he was like, “oh crap, better catch up!” and pretty much taught himself everything without anyone’s help
Actually, when I was reading about his early life in the bio, it was this fact that he was so self-taught that was really the cause behind most of the accusations of plagiarism he faced. He didn’t start out in math, as I said, so he had to catch himself up. Along the way, he started making advancements and discoveries that, to him, were new and unique, and thus he eagerly published them. But unbeknownst to him, several of these major discoveries were things that had actually been discovered and published not too long before. So some people (*cough*Hooke*cough*) were like “hey, you totally got that from [insert mathematician here]! THIEF!” even though he had come up with it on his own.
Really. That happened to him like three times even before the whole calculus thing.
And did you know he was the one who came up with what is today known as Cramer’s Rule? Truth! But like a lot of the stuff he developed, it was so advanced for his time that it just kind of sat in his notes and wasn’t used for a long time.
(Like his binary!)
But I think the one thing that I really, really like about him is the fact that he was always looking for connections between everything. He was convinced that even the most isolated bits of the universe and of human knowledge were connected to everything else and that a system could be developed with which we could express these connections and better understand them. In everything he did, he always seemed to be driving towards defining this system and better describing the connectivity of the universe.
And that’s just cool.
NNNNNNNNNNNNF I JUST LOVE HIM, OKAY?
(I live in a fantasy world where Leibniz and I are married and he does calculus and I do statistics and we do each other and life is perfect.)
Expect another Leibniz-heavy blog when I finish the whole bio, ‘cause it’s going to happen whether you like it or not.
Until next year!
Happy birthday, Gottfried! <3
I can’t stay away from that website with the mathematician birthday/deathday data.
So I decided to look at the data a little differently this time. Each square represents either a death or a birth on the day of the year. The data are broken up by month by a small white space.
Note the “most eventful” and “least eventful” days. And look at October and all its within-group variance.
I think I’m going to do some stats on this data. Because that’s what I do. But I can’t do it for like another week, since next week involves LOTS of studying/homework/panic attacks.
Happy birthday to one of the greatest statisticians ever: Sir Ronald Fisher!
Fisher (1890 – 1962) was an English statistician/biologist/geneticist who did a few cool things…you know…like CREATING FREAKING ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE.
Yes, that’s right kids. Fisher’s the guy that came up with ANOVA. In fact, he’s known as the father of modern statistics. Apart from ANOVA, he’s also responsible for coining the term “null hypothesis”, the F-distribution (F for “Fisher!”), and maximum likelihood.
Seriously. This guy was like a bundle of statistical genius. What would it be like to be the dude who popularized maximum likelihood? “Oh hey guys, I’ve got this idea for parameter estimation in a statistical model. All you do is select the values of the parameters in the model such that the likelihood function is maximized. No big deal or anything, it just maximizes the probability of the observed data under the distribution.”
I dealt with ML quite a bit for my thesis and I’m still kinda shaky with it.
I would love to get into the heads of these incredibly smart individuals who come up with this stuff. Very, very cool.
I don’t know why, but birthdays and the distribution of birthdays is really fascinating to me. I’m going to have to analyze this somehow.
And the birth and death statistics page is awesome, too. Interesting, interesting stuff.
Edit: compiled ‘em!
It’s kind of cool that I found this today, as today was the birthday of Rene Descartes! Happy birthday, Rene!
Edit 2: Not only did we lose l’Hopital on my birthday, but we lost Bertrand Russell as well? Man, throw in the birth of Ayn Rand* and February 2nd has not been kind to the world.
*James Joyce’s birth almost makes up for this.
So I’m 25 today, if anyone cares.
Part of me doesn’t give a crap, but part of me is majorly disappointed over how little I’ve accomplished thus far. Obviously there’s no one else to blame for my failure at being important/impactful/whatever but myself, and I’m definitely trying to make it so that I AM important/impactful/whatever, but it’s still depressing how much I suck at life. I’ve never had a healthy (romantic) relationship. I’ve moved around so much these past few years that I don’t really have a steady base of friends. And I’m just…blah sometimes.
But I guess I’ve done SOME things worthwhile. I’ve gone skydiving. I’ve marched in a Seattle Seahawks halftime show. I’ve won some awards for my writing. I’ve seen more than my fair share of internetz (YES THAT’S WORTHWHILE SHUT UP). I have a Masters degree. I’m working on expanding my knowledge as far as I possibly can. I’m studying what I’m passionate about.
And hey, I’m temporary faculty at a university and am getting paid to do what I absolutely love to do. That’s pretty damn good for a 25-year-old.
Happy Birthday, Stephen Hawking!
Woah, I had no idea he was in his 70’s. He’s like 40 years old in my mind for some reason.
I’m not going to BS my way through this and attempt to describe in any significant detail some of Hawking’s major discoveries and theories, so instead I’ll just post something that’s sciency but pretty much totally unrelated to Hawking. ‘Cause I’m dumb.
Anyway. The KILOGRAM!
The kilogram intrigues me. It’s my favorite SI unit. Of the seven basic SI units, it’s the only one still based on a physical object. The blog post actually started my This Week’s Science Blog series was, in fact, about the kilogram. At that time I’d read an article detailing how several of the actual “copies” of the kilogram—that is, the various chunks of metal that all once weighed exactly the same—have been damaged/broken over the decades, resulting in different countries’ kilograms all being defined as slightly different weights.
But now, scientists have discovered that several copies of the kilo have gotten heavier due to surface contamination in the form of carbon and mercury. The actual gain is no more than tens of micrograms, but that’s a big deal considering that things like radioactive materials are often restricted by weight. A few more micrograms of radioactive substance could mean a lot in some situations.
Scientists hope to “clean” the kilo using ozone and ultraviolet light, which would, according to research, not harm the actual metal. But a better solution according to many would be to actually redefine the kilogram based on some law of nature rather than a physical object—something that has been accomplished for the other six major SI units.
Hang in there, kilogram…your day of reckoning is coming!
I miss my Pokemon cards. I should have kept them. Foolish Claudia!
I’m a psychic-psychic, which is awesome, ‘cause I love the psychic Pokemon. Can I be Alakazam? I always thought Alakazam was awesome.
“Puts enemies to sleep then eats their dreams.”
I totally do that.
Also, look at this dude and tell me there’s not a resemblance:
Also, this is relevant to today.
Of course, I’m talking about Gottfried Leibniz’ birthday!
The world has been without your physical presence for too long, my friend. Reincarnate so that I can date you stalk you pet your wig admire your genius in a completely appropriate and non-creepy manner.
Was going to buy some Choco Leibniz today, but I forgot. Instead, I made this:
I was listening to my music in the car the other day and realized how well Bittersweet Symphony would go with something from Coldplay. So I gave it a shot.
Happy birthday, my main man. <3
Happy birthday, mom! Sorry I kind of turned today into a Let’s All Get Depressed party tonight. Unfortunately, that’s the only thing I’m good at sometimes.
However, this shall possibly cheer you up: my new favorite meme.
It’s like Lame Pun Coon, but even lamer. And punnier. And therefore it’s awesome. I’d pick a favorite but I giggle like an idiot through each page, so I don’t think I can.